This is what it looks like to play Half-Life: Alyx without VR – and a mod could be coming soon

(Image credit: Valve)

Half-Life: Alyx has a built-in tool for developers which allows the game to be played with no VR headset, using the traditional mouse-and-keyboard controller scheme – albeit in a limited and rather wonky form, as you’ll see in the below video clip of the non-VR action.

This was discovered by Tyler McVicker, the founder of Valve News Network, who stumbled upon the no-headset-needed experience, and enacted a console command (‘vr_enable_fake_vr_test’) to get the player’s ‘virtual’ hands to appear.

This points the way towards a mod being developed which could possibly facilitate a smooth – or at least smoother than this clip – non-VR Alyx experience. Maybe, just maybe…

After all, Robin Walker, one of the coders who worked on Half-Life: Alyx, has already anticipated the release of a non-VR mod, and is even looking forward to this development. 

Why? Because he believes it will illustrate exactly why Valve made the decision to produce Alyx for virtual reality only, as folks will realize exactly what’s missing when you boil the game back down to a standard mouse-and-keyboard shooter.


Valve has said all along that Half-Life: Alyx is fully intended to be just a VR experience, with inherent elements and design decisions tightly woven into the direction they took with the game.

To try and make it for both VR and non-VR gamers would have involved too much compromise for the former, was the argument. And the whole point was a showcase for what virtual reality can really do – and the critics and reviews have vindicated Valve’s approach here.

We called it a “bonafide game-changer that could have only been achieved in VR”, no less.

Naturally, all this doesn’t stop a great deal of gamers who don’t own VR hardware being highly disappointed that they can’t play the latest Half-Life game. And those disillusioned folks are exactly the audience which any potential mod would be targeting.

If such a mod ever emerges, of course, but the discovery of this dev tool has seemingly made the prospect of something like this happening more likely. And perhaps it could happen sooner than it might have otherwise done, too – because a lot of the necessary gubbins is, apparently, already in place within Alyx.

Via PC Gamer

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).